It’s been really humid this summer. I’m noticing that plants such as the borage and tomatoes that were so chipper and upstanding last year are looking limp and sad. It thunderstormed yesterday afternoon, bringing much needed rain. As a fellow gardener said to his friend: “If I don’t water, it won’t rain.” I watered in the morning as well and as I watched the downpour I worried that my plants might have gotten too much water. But I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the rain. You can water as much as you want, but it’s only after the rains that plants really flourish. It must be the nutrients in the rain. I don’t have much nutrient-rich kelp meal left, so I’ve been saving it for when I plant the fall crops.
While at the garden, I picked the first zucchini of the season. It was small, about 7 inches long, but firm with very few blemishes. My family enjoyed it raw in a bean salad. Very nice.
First zucchini of the season!
There are a lot of male flowers on my zucchini plants (the female flowers are at the end of the zucchini). I picked two, one of which was housing about 6 earwigs (I shook the flower and they fell out). I’ve been reading online that you can batter, stuff, and fry them up and that they taste divine. I might just try it or a less labour-intensive baked version.
A male zucchini flower ready for harvest, with some young zucchini in the background
Gardening is definitely giving me an appreciation and a comfort level around bugs. I used to be really creeped out by earwigs, in particular, when I was younger. I can say this year they don’t bother me so much.
Earwigs hiding in basil leaves
I managed to photograph the very beautiful cucumber beetle exploring a cucumber flower. I’ve had a hard time killing these little buggers, they fly away so quickly. I’ve been a bit obsessed with trying to photograph as well as kill them. I’m glad none of them have managed to damage my zucchini. I’ve read online that you can plant radishes near cucumbers to repel the beetle so I planted some Hon Vit radish from my Spicy Salad Mix package. You can also lay down onion skins. I don’t know how effective these interventions are so we’ll see what happens. Apparently the Marketmore cucumber I planted are disease resistant. I guess that’s not the same as pest resistant.
Cucumber beetle explores cucumber flower
Incidentally I’ve been wondering when I will start seeing cucumbers. Turns out they can take anywhere from 55 to 70 days, which I had forgotten. This is length of time is disappointing, but reassuring that my lack of fruit at this stage is perfectly normal. I think I planted around the beginning of June so I should see fruit around the beginning of September.
I’ve been quite lax with picking off the suckers of my tomato plants. Some of them have already turned into long branches with flowers so I picked off the ones without flowers. I’ve noticed on one plant that the bottoms leaves are spreading out across the ground. I remember reading somewhere that you should remove the leaves close to the ground but I can’t remember why. Many of the forums I’ve looked at today say that removing the bottom leaves increases fruit yields, that they should be removed if they are yellow, and that because they are close to the ground they could pick up diseases. The leaves near the ground on my plants are green and show no sign of disease. Some forum posts gave logical arguments against removing leaves, stating that leaves are required for photosynthesis and that we don’t go around pulling leaves off of other healthy plants so why do it to tomatoes. I think I’ll just watch and see what happens. It does seem like I have less tomatoes than I did last year, but maybe it’s still early.
I planted some dill and parsley. I was happy to see that the collard greens I had planted either last week or the week before are starting to come up but upset to see that leafminers have already begun attacking them!
Leafminer damage already!
I had to tie up my borage plant with twine. It was falling onto one of the tomato plants and keeping the parsley that is already growing from getting any sun. One branch was actually breaking off but I thought if I tied it up it might heal itself. Many of the flowers are not open yet, but the few that are open are being visited frequently by pollinators. Good stuff.
Pollinator at work
I harvested mostly basil today, with some nasturium leaves, borage flowers, a beet, and the zucchini.
Harvest July 15th
A lovely beet
My brother told me the blogger for our community gardens wants to feature our plot in an upcoming blog post. Exciting! We’ll see if it comes to pass. I think what stands out in my plot are the flowers. One might think they are a waste of good growing space (especially my 3 squares of sunflowers), but they are essential for attracting pollinators. And they look so pretty!
Garden July 15th